Vocational rehabilitation: failure to cooperate dispute found in favor of the respondent
Hayden v. Industrial Commission, et al.
214 Ill.App.3d 749, 574 N.E.2d 99 (1991)
John P. Connolly of Brady, Connolly & Masuda, P.C. successfully defended the respondent in Hayden whereby the petitioner, a 41 year old structural iron worker, sustained injury to his low back and left arm. Petitioner participated in a work hardening program and was released to return to work, however, was unable to work at unprotected heights. Petitioner's examining physician maintained that petitioner should not engage in repetitive bending, weight lifting or prolonged walking, standing, sitting or standing.
Petitioner was referred to a vocational rehabilitation counselor for job development and placement services. Interviews were scheduled by the vocational counselor, however, petitioner admitted that he was not interested in a clerical position or working indoors. Petitioner testified that he was considering returning to school on a full time basis in order to obtain his degree. The vocational counselor recommended that further rehabilitation efforts be withheld until petitioner made a commitment to pursue employment for which he was qualified.
Respondent terminated petitioner's temporary total disability benefits as a result of the employee's failure to cooperate with placement efforts. At trial, the Arbitrator determined that petitioner had unreasonably substituted his judgment for that of the physician in advising the union personnel that he would be returning to structural iron work within 3 - 6 months.
On appeal, the Appellate Court addressed whether the Arbitrator and Industrial Commission's Decisions terminating temporary total disability and medical benefits due to petitioner's unwillingness to cooperate with vocational placement was against the manifest weight of the evidence. In Hayden, the Appellate Court agreed with the respondent's termination of benefits and found that the petitioner was no entitled to temporary total disability and medical benefits.
The Appellate Court in Hayden agreed with the Commission's determination that the petitioner's absence of good faith in cooperating with the vocational rehabilitation efforts justified respondent's termination of his temporary total disability benefits.
The Hayden court specifically determined that “in attempting rehabilitation of the injured employee, the Commission should establish boundaries which reasonably confine the employer's responsibility including a requirement that the claimant make good faith efforts to cooperate in the rehabilitation effort.” Archer Daniels Midland Company v. Industrial Commission, et al., 174 Ill.App.3d 918, 124 Ill.Dec 417, (1988). National Tea Company v. Industrial Commission, et al., 97 Ill.2d 424, 454 N.E.2d 672 (1983).
John P. Connolly of Brady, Connolly & Masuda, P.C. successfully established that the petitioner had a responsibility to the respondent while participating in vocational rehabilitation and that he could not control and dictate to the respondent the type of work he was interested in performing but, rather, had to cooperate and put forth a good faith effort.
John P. Connolly, Esq.
Brady, Connolly & Masuda, P.C.
10 South LaSalle Street, Suite 900
Chicago, Illinois 60603